After three years of brainstorming, conversing and arguing, Wissahickon residents finally have a draft of the mural that will cover the Wissahickon Train Station.
Artist David Guinn revealed his design to about 13 residents at a meeting inside the gymnasium of Northern Children’s Services last week. Guinn captured the essence of the neighborhood’s scenery, painting trees, rocks, valleys and the intersecting of rivers surrounding twin houses.
The response was overwhelmingly positive as attendees marveled at the colors and representations.
“He did a really nice job,” said Jose Ramos, a literacy teacher at Cook-Wissahickon School who helped write the grant to fund the project.
“Our area is beautiful and natural and has tons of recreation,” Ramos said. “We want people to know that.”
With the shops and restaurants along Main Street in Manayunk, and a burgeoning art scene in Roxborough, Ramos says Wissahickon has a small town, chic identity.
“That’s really the direction this neighborhood is heading toward — artsy, intellectual, maybe a little Bohemian even,” Ramos said.
Since 1998, Guinn has painted more than 35 murals across the globe including several throughout Philadelphia. He’s the founder of Freewall, an outdoor space for promoting innovative mural art on 12th and Sansom streets.
One of the concepts that Guinn applied to the Wissahickon mural is the “arc of colors meeting.”
“I like the movement of the colors to sync with the flow of the rivers,” Guinn said. “It should be exciting at a distance like when you’re driving along the Schuylkill.”
Guinn was chosen by Kathy Harris, Director of Community Murals. After 13 years with the Mural Arts Program, she’s gotten quite familiar with Guinn’s creative masterpieces.
She said she would have brought him on the project earlier, but she wanted to make sure there was a critical mass of people really behind the mural project.
“You know, we have a limited amount of discretionary dollars from the city so we have to really look hard at the applications to decide how to spend the money,” Harris said. “It was actually good that it happened when it did because SEPTA had just done work on the station.”
The only man to voice his displeasure with the draft was Chip Roller, Vice President of the Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association.
“It’s missing the whole flavor of the railroad station,” Roller said. “The railroad made this community, and it still does today.”
Wendy Green-Harvey, Assistant Director for SEPTA Support Services, suggested that Guinn hold off on starting the project until after Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in late September.
Guinn estimates that it will take him about five to six weeks to finish painting, and hopes to unveil the mural right before Thanksgiving.